Author's Note: I've always wondered how River got from being the way she was at the end of Let's Kill Hitler, to loving the Doctor so stubbornly during The Wedding of River Song. This fic sort of came out of that. I hope you enjoy it. Reviews are always appreciated:)
Shakily, the curly haired woman perched herself on the red-velvet, Victorian style chair.
Her wild curls were a tangled mess, and her light eyes were etched with exhaustion and fatigue.
She hadn't slept in days.
It was the middle of the night, and she was sitting in a small corner of the Luna University library with nothing but a few dim lamps to illuminate the room.
Folding her eyes shut, River Song tried her very hardest to battle the blazing, inherent fear that was radiating from deep within her, its seductive hold now undeniable, going by the way her body was currently trembling.
Frightening images of her recent nightmare pulsated through her mind—an all too familiar eye-patched woman torturing her with that horrid, serpent-like voice, her long ago instructions replaying in her head over and over again until her heart was overwhelmed by a great variety of emotions—from biting guilt to swirling confusion to piercing dread.
'Melody Pond. You failed us. But we're not finished with you yet. You will kill him, no matter what it takes.'
Those words were forever taunting her, gnawing at the very core of her being, though, unfortunately they came to light only at the darkest of times.
This was one of those times.
No, stop it! I won't do it! Never again!
River pled internally, remembering the Doctor's still, lifeless form, after his life had been snuffed out by her incurable poison.
But he's alive, I saved him. Yeah, and he left me. They all did. I hardly even knew who I was. I still don't, really.
She recalled the loneliness she had felt when the white hospital walls had encased her for all those gruesome weeks, the only visible signs of her parents or the Doctor being there at all had been the blank TARDIS blue book, a few articles of clothing, and a short note guiding her to the Luna University.
That message, scrawled in the Doctor's own handwriting, was carefully placed in her diary, (at least, that's what she assumed it was), which was currently resting on her lap, another book placed beside it.
Inhaling sharply, the woman known as River Song attempted to calm herself and expunge the horrific thoughts from her mind. What she needed was a distraction, and it was primarily for that reason that she had come to the library in the first place.
I don't want to think about the nightmares. I came here to escape them…I didn't have any other option. Now, I must focus on something else…anything…
Her weary eyes skimmed the area, finally resting on the looming display above her.
There, a blue-green tinged planet rested in the star-speckled sky—a place called Earth. After having lived there for the majority of her life, River found it slightly unsettling, yet somewhat liberating to be a great distance away from her former place of residence—though, she had never once dared to call it 'home.'
Somewhere out there, among the tiny glowing specks that the dotted the vast canopy of darkness, a blue box was drifting through the expansiveness of space—a ship piloted the remarkable man who consumed her every thought.
It had been many months since she had last laid eyes upon that impossible man in the bow tie, and even then, the hope of seeing him again was ever present at the bottom of her heart. No matter how much she wished to deny it.
I don't understand this. How can I possible feel this way about the man I was destined to murder? He deserted me in that hospital, and perhaps he had his reasons, but after all this time, couldn't he have at least stopped by, once? Maybe then I wouldn't be so desperate. I mean, look at me, working on the thesis for my doctorate—and the Doctor is the topic.
River's attention was drawn back to the current situation, and she laid her diary open on her lap, her hands beginning to flip through a new book she had recently acquired and had yet to thoroughly examine.
Scanning the cover, she carefully read the title, recalling that it was those bold words that had first peaked her interest.
'A Journal of Impossible Things' by Verity Newman.
One glance at the synopsis had confirmed her suspicions that a certain time traveler was the main subject, and River had, in turn, decided that the book would likely provide her with some very insightful information, not just for her thesis, but for her own personal understanding of the Doctor.
She had been intending to skim the book ever since she had set foot in the library that night, but of course, it had taken quite a while to clear her mind of her nightmares, at least enough so that she could think to some extent.
Instead of flipping directly to the first page, River, having learned from experience, settled on a random page towards the middle, knowing that the introduction was likely dull, boring, and over all a complete waste of time to read.
She supposed that in the 51st century she could have easily found the necessary information in the computer's extensive, virtual records, but somehow, the feeling of the paper pages tickling her thumbs, and the ancient, musty smell was strangely appealing to her. It reminded her of something old-fashioned—or rather, someone—a certain man who dressed in a tweed jacket and bow tie, an outfit that seemed more characteristic of the early 20th century man, and not a thousand year old time traveling alien.
There was also something intruiging to her about the library itself, the way the numerous selves of books surrounded her, as if every unopened book was some sort of mystery yet to be explored. She had heard somewhere not too long ago that there was an entire planet called the Library, which had seemingly been deserted for hundreds of years. Perhaps she would visit it one day.
Now, her eyes grazed the small, Times New Roman font, and she mentally processed a description of a strange, yet unmistakably familiar man.
'John was really the most remarkable man, and it was not long after I met him before I realized without a single doubt in my mind that I had fallen in love. At the time, I would have never dreamed that that handsome, spikey haired, brown eyed man was actually a stranger from who lived among the stars in a little blue box.'
River assumed that this was referring to a past incarnation of the Doctor, though she had not the faintest idea which one, since from what she could already tell, he was a man of many faces.
Opening her diary to a page titled, 'The Spotter's Guide to the Doctor,' the curly haired woman recorded the phrase, 'spikey haired, brown eyed man,' hoping that one day she would have a picture to match it.
She then proceeded to turn to another part of the other book, as she was intent on discovering the context of this woman's account of the Doctor.
A small folded slip of paper resting between the pages quickly caught her eye, and she immediately examined it, knowing it was not intended to be part of the narrative.
"What's this?" River wondered aloud.
In a matter of seconds, she recognized the handwriting, despite having only seen it once before. It was the Doctor's. Her Doctor's lettering.
So what on Earth is this doing in here? I suppose I'd better read it to find out. Let's see… ' River,' wait, what? As in me? I'd better continue,' we're going out tonight. I'll pick you up at 12:30 am in the university library. –the Doctor X.'
"What?" she began, suddenly startled, both books dropping between her fingers as soon as she processed the words in her mind.
How could he have—I don't understand…this is mad…I must be dreaming.
The rapid thumping of her heart and the heat surging in her cheeks dashed that theory rather quickly.
I haven't even seen him in months…how could he have possibly known I'd be reading this exact book in this library? Maybe it's just a mistake or else I'm hallucinating somehow.
Nevertheless, River found herself turning towards the antique clock in the back of the room.
It was apparently 12:02am, which meant that if this message was indeed intended for her, the Doctor would be arriving less than half an hour later.
Her heart rate sped up, resulting from an atypical mixture of fear, confusion, anger, and excitement.
One thing was for certain, if the bumbling man in the bow tie had decided to pop in, she'd have to somehow manage to sort herself out in the next thirty minutes, or else she feared she might do something regrettable.
About an hour and a half later, at precisely 1:37am, River released an exasperated sigh, any ounce of hope still lingering in her heart nearly extinguished.
Forcing herself to look away from the clock, the aspiring archaeologist sank down in her chair, and as much as she wanted to become preoccupied in her studies, they would only remind her of the man she should have never have been naïve enough to take seriously.
If she was perfectly honest, River was secretly hurt by the Doctor's actions, though she would never care to admit it to anyone, least of all, him.
Her heart continued to thud unmercifully, and she mentally scolded herself for believing the message in the first place.
How could I be so daft? Trusting the man I was raised to murder. I didn't used to be like this. Before Berlin I would have never dreamed of wanting to see him for any reason besides killing him. Now, look at me, I'm a train wreck. How did this happen? Anyway, the note probably wasn't even meant for me …I should have just dealt with the nightmare, then I wouldn't have had this problem in the first place.
"I suppose this is what Mum must have felt like. And yet after all that she still trusts him." The woman was bewildered by her mother's firm sense of faith in the Doctor because it didn't seem to make any sort of sense.
Though waiting an hour and a half is nothing compared to 14 years. I should have never assumed the Doctor would be true to his word. Rule one: the Doctor lies.
Pressing her hand to her forehead, River couldn't escape the sound of the Doctor's quiet voice as it pulsated through her head.
The memory of his handsome face caused her stomach to churn.
Stop it! Don't be ridiculous. You can't give in.
As much as she could justify this in her mind, in truth, she desired to see the Doctor more intensely as the moments passed on.
River wanted to hate him for deserting her and lying to her when she needed him the most, and yet, every time she tried, she couldn't erase of the mental image of his face, the feeling of his lips against hers as she had given her remaining lives for him. The intense sea of emotion that she had felt then was surfacing now, despite her attempts to suppress it.
Her mother had claimed the Doctor was worth it, fully aware of his faults and the pain he had caused her over the years—most of which River had witnessed firsthand as Mels.
But River could only wonder if she truly believed it herself.
Half of her, River Song, did indeed believe it, but the other half, Melody, still lurking beneath the surface, reminded her of her awful childhood and her most recent experiences—times in which the Doctor had never come.
Don't get your hopes up. Because no matter what, he'll always let you down. Just like everybody else always has.
The darker part of her refused to weaken its hold on her throbbing heart.
It wasn't until a vaguely familiar whirring sound entered her hearing that the tormented woman became slightly hopeful, her eyes locking onto the sight of the TARDIS as it materialized across the room.
Why the noise was so loud, she didn't know, but she had a nagging doubt that it wasn't supposed to sound like that, especially in a library of all places, but more than likely the Doctor was too stubborn to change anything.
Leaving the book in resting on the chair cushion and clasping her diary in hand, River approached the police box, trying desperately to assuage her rabid emotions.
With a quick snap of the fingers, the doors had clicked open, revealing an especially dapper Doctor. His body was clothed elegantly in a suit similar to the one he had worn at the point of death in Berlin, and the very sight of him made River's cheeks strangely hot.
"Hi, honey, I'm home!" he declared happily, his mouth curving into a wry smile as he stared straight into her blue-green eyes.
"And what sort of time do you call this?" she was surprised that she had responded in such a way, and she had the oddest inkling that she would be repeating that very sentence many times in the future.
"You're late!" River spat, sauntering into the TARDIS and trying to maintain an angry scowl, though she wasn't sure if she could maintain that poker face for too much longer.
"Late? What are you talking about? This was supposed to be a surprise…I…" he entered directly after her, ignoring the sound of the doors shutting from behind. The Doctor was completely preoccupied with River Song.
"Surprise? How is sending me a note saying that you're picking me up at 12:30 am in any way a surprise?" flashing the note in the man's face, River watched as his light eyes widened.
The man in the bow tie was slightly flushed after reading the tiny scrap of paper.
Grabbing it, the Doctor propped it closer to his face, examining it with a childish curiousity.
"Hmmm. Well, that is definitely my handwriting. But I obviously haven't written this note, yet. May I ask where you found it?"
River was a bit stunned by his apparent confusion, and she could tell from the way he spoke that he was being honest.
"In a book I was reading. It was about you. 'A Journal of Impossible Things' by Verity Newman." She bit her lip, watching as his expression tensed.
"Oh, I remember that book, before I regenerated into this body…I…well, it doesn't matter. But at least now I know that I have to find that book and write you a note in the future." he trailed off, his words puzzling the woman greatly.
"But I don't understand. Did you write the note or not?"
"Well, sort of, I haven't yet, but I will have…oh, you know, it's rather complicated." The Doctor shrugged, hoping she would understand.
Apparently she didn't.
He detected the hurt in her eyes and the lack of understanding by her subtle movements.
"Wait, River…where are we?" his voice rose an octave, trembling a bit as he spoke.
"In the TARDIS, where do you think? And the TARDIS is in the Luna University library. If you landed her here, then you should know that, am I right?" she was perplexed by the flash of sadness flickering in his eyes.
"Actually, she sort of landed herself. She always knows where you are. But, anyway, what I meant to say was when are we? As in, when was the last time you saw me?" the Doctor fiddled about nervously, his fingers digging through his dark hair.
"Don't you know? I last saw you when we did Berlin. Then you and my parents deserted me in that hospital." River tried to sound angry, but instead her voice was trembling. "Speaking of my parents, where are they?" turning her head, she began to look for them.
For a second, the man in the bow tie didn't speak.
Her throat closed at the pain in the Doctor's eyes. If she wasn't mistaken, he appeared as if he might break down if she continued to press him.
River felt a pang of guilt, but it didn't prevent her from wondering about her parents' whereabouts.
"They're safe." He whispered, but there was something he was obviously concealing in his tone.
Sensing the implications of his words, the curly haired woman decided to refrain from making any further inquiries on the subject.
"So, you travel with other people, then? Friends… maybe a girlfriend…or something…"
Her heart lurched at the thought that he might be involved with someone else.
But after what he whispered in my ear in Berlin…
His cheeks turned beet red.
"Oh, no. Well, I did have this friend—not a girlfriend or anything like that…just a friend…Clara, her name was, but she's…um…gone. And well, sometimes I pop in on you…but I'm afraid I can't say too much about that. Erm. Spoilers?" Scratching his cheek, the Doctor suddenly seemed very vulnerable.
River faintly heard him muttering something about 'too young,' and 'foreknowledge.'
"I see. You weren't expecting me, then. At least, not this me. I think I'm starting to see how this works. I know from how you acted in Berlin that you knew me in the future…very well at that. I still don't completely understand." The clever woman finally deduced, not totally able to comprehend her own words.
"River, because we're both time travelers, we never meet in the right order. You've just done Berlin, but for me, that was, well, quite a while ago." Seeing her perplexed expression, the Doctor chose not to be too specific about that. She would have to figure out most of it herself, he was certain.
"You want to see her, don't you? Not me—her, your River Song. Future me, the woman you kept going on about the last time I saw you. I'm not enough. I haven't seen you in months, Doctor. I'm in University, now, in case you didn't realize. Maybe I'm not the River you know yet, but it doesn't mean you have to desert me like that. After all this time, you could have called…you could have stopped by just once. And when you sent me the note, you made me think that maybe you actually cared…but you don't. You came here by mistake. I can see it in your eyes, Doctor. You don't want me." River's heart was practically shattered as she vented off her raging emotions. She stiffened when she felt a tiny droplet trickled down her cheek.
Seriously? I'm crying at a time like this?
"I—I'm sorry, R-River, I didn't mean…please, don't cry. The reason we left the hospital so abruptly was because I was afraid we had too much foreknowledge. And you're wrong; I do want to see you. This you. Regardless of how far along you are in your time stream. You're still my River." His finger stroked her cheek with an odd sense of familiarity, and the Doctor himself was blinking back tears.
River's heart melted at the sight of his face.
"But how can I be? I don't even know who I am, not really. And who am I to you?" she rasped, her body tingling at the sensation of his touch, a feeling she was relatively unfamiliar with.
If she was not mistaken, his face reddened more than it already had (if that was even possible), and an aching sadness arose in his eyes, something she couldn't distinguish.
"Spoilers." It rolled off his tongue as if it was a foreign word, and he seemed astonished that he had even used it at all.
His weary eyes looked straight into her soul, and suddenly he looked so old, much older than when she had seen him last. Ancient and weathered.
She hadn't really realized it until that moment, but she didn't feel so upset with him, anymore.
How could she, when the very sight of him made her heart pound and her body tremble?
"But, I—" River began, her bottom lip twitching as he unexpectedly reached for her hand, entangling his fingers in hers. The Doctor seemed slightly hesitant, as if he expected her to resist.
But she didn't. In fact, besides the somewhat off-putting notion that she was probably blushing more than she would have liked, River realized that she rather liked holding his hand. Very much so, actually.
Before she could react, River watched the Doctor bend down, his breath lacing her ear as he whispered, ever so softly:
"This is who you are to me."
He began to crouch lower, his lips finally reaching hers, and before she knew it he was kissing her quite passionately, his hands settling in just the right places, as if he had done this hundreds of times before.
For the awkward man he sometimes made himself out to be, this was an unexpected move.
River moaned, astonished by how exhilarated she felt, as a fiery sensation warmed her entire body. They may have kissed before, back in Berlin, but both had been initiated by her—and those kisses paled in comparison to what she was experiencing, now.
When the Doctor drew back, River was breathing heavily, her heart racing like mad, as he stared at her with those loving, ancient eyes.
He continued to clasp her hand tightly, and he tugged her over to the TARDIS console.
Placing River's hand on a particular lever, the man in the bow tie smiled brightly.
"W-What are you doing?" she muttered, seeing the sadness lessen in his eyes.
"You've learned the basics. But I think it's about time I taught you how to properly fly her. And then there's something I'd like to show you."
His words reverberated in her mind, but soon, all she felt was the touch of his hand as he maneuvered hers around, his instructions telepathically humming in her head.
She glanced back at his gleeful face again, and for the first time ever, she was completely certain of one thing.
This is how she wanted to spend the rest of her life.
River Song was finally home.
Note: So, thanks for reading! Hopefully you enjoyed it. Feel free to read my other stories, with are posted on my profile page. Please take this time to leave a review.
Have a brilliant day!